We fell asleep to the sound of incredibly heavy rainfall and thought of it all being lost due to no real system for collecting it. After a very good night inside our mosquito nets we woke to the sound of birds and children.
Downstairs, breakfast waited. The children were a bit surprised that we didn’t play with them immediately but we were very conscious of the short time available to us, so opted instead for a tour of KACH with the lovely Joy Karambu, our guide during our stay here. The reason we’re in Kenya is to complete whatever plumbing work is most needed by the KACH (Kithoka Amani Community Home) here in Kenya
It was immediately clear why the current rainwater harvesting system broke virtually as soon as it was installed; not enough collection points for the vast amounts of rain that fall nightly and sometimes in the day during the rainy season, plus, most of the pipework for collecting wasn’t glued together, so the rain was just being moved around and lost.
Hattie and Joy discussed the many plumbing jobs needing doing. The only reliable water supply is paid for water, either standard fee via the government supplier or pay-as-you-go from Meru County (usually both). This year, the prediction is for probably the heaviest rainfall and longest rainy season for several years – due to El Nino. This means that if gutters and collection tanks are fitted on every building, potentially no bought water will be needed during the rains (up to five months) and far less will need to be bought during the dry season.
We looked around the entire estate, comprising of the original compound, with living quarters, gardens, a Peace Hut, chickens and goats and a 5 minute walk away, the organic farm, Tiriji
mostly for crops but also housing five newly pregnant heifers; their keeper is very keen for a rainwater collection tank for them.
Much of the food production of the farm is watered via a bore hole, including: mangoes, avocados, corn, bananas, cassava, cabbages, kale, Moringa – a super-food grown to eat and sell and luscious tomatoes. The community have been able to increase their level of sustainability from 50 to 60% during the last twelve months and water sustainability will increase that again considerably.
As we went around we became more convinced that harvesting the rain is urgent. Probably the reason it hasn’t been so far is that traditionally buildings in this region were round, but most of the buildings here now are rectangular and of course, the dangers of having standing water (which can be easily overcome through modern methods.
The puzzle remains of how to create gutters for the circular buildings.
Joy has become very involved in the design of the system and is totally committed to eradicating waste. She will understand every aspect of what we do here together having been fulling involved from the beginning.
Leo left us to return to Nairobi mid-afternoon with promises to return and we settled with our laptops to research materials; Hattie deep in thought.
It being Saturday night, there had to be dancing! The children entertained everyone, dancing in groups according to their ages. Click here for a video of some of the kids entertaining us all. The oldest children are away at boarding school, but there are little ones here as well as children up to around 12.
Both Hattie and I were very graciously and subtly allowed to win games of the Chair Dance, which we know as musical chairs. Finally, we all danced together, great fun and excellent bonding. We were all friends by the end.
We are being made to feel so very welcome here, the children are a real delight.